Guest post by Victoria Green
Getting media attention – especially the right kind of attention – is something of an art. Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner, or a politician, it’s all about finding an angle. And not just that – you have to be able to get a reporter’s attention in the first place. This can be easier said than done.
Bear in mind that reporters and media journalists are solicited hundreds of times a day. Their email inboxes are virtually overflowing. So if you want their attention, you need to go about it in the right way. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that means taking an unconventional approach.
With this in mind, here are 6 weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. (See also: 9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader — and Become a Media Darling).
Start with Google
Google is an amazing resource to unearth useful information about the reporter, what they cover, and how they like to be approached.
A good place to start your ‘Googleathon’ is social media. See how they interact with others online, and whether they regularly interact with others pitching them ideas. You can also look to their work bio to see if they specify preferences.
There are different schools of thought on the best way to approach a reporter with an idea for a story. They may prefer email, Twitter, or a good old-fashioned phone call. In the unlikely event that they aren’t present on social media, you can defer to phone or email.
HOT TIP: look out for any pet peeves they regularly complain about. Take note as well of the current issues that they’re tweeting or retweeting. See if there’s any common ground you can use to help build a connection. Maybe you have a product that might help? Or maybe you feel the same way about a social issue?
Ultimately, if you already have a feel for the reporter and what s/he likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of reaching out to them successfully.
Weird ways to get media attention. source: pexels
Take a lesson From Tinder
The more I think about it, the more I realize that attempting to reach out and get the attention of a reporter is much like modern dating. Thanks to online dating, we often have a chance to find out about someone before we decide to approach them. When we do decide to make a move, the opening line is critical.
Tinder lines can be hilariously terrible. They can also be downright dull. Mastering the art of a good opener is paramount if you’re serious about looking for love online. And if you’re serious about getting your story picked up by the media, then it’s equally crucial.
‘Hey, how are you?’ is a great way to get ignored by a journalist. It does nothing to spark their curiosity. It lacks creativity and fails to disclose your reason for getting in touch.
Powerful subject lines for an opening email are:
Remember, your pitch must immediately rouse the reporter’s interest. An effective subject line really is half the challenge. Check out these top 10 email subject line formulas for inspiration. You may be surprised to learn that in some cases, “profanity f*cking works”.
Journalists also love data — so put your best foot forwards and give them some awesome data for free. Running an ecommerce business? Why not send out some surveys to your customers via social media and email to find out more about their habits? From family life and holidays, to food habits and leisure — there are plenty of useful insights and stories lurking out there.
Play it cool
Yep – the online dating metaphor still stands. When you’re building a relationship with a reporter, timing is important. Journalists are busy people with full schedules, and your clinginess will not be appealing to them.
Be respectful of what the reporter already has on their plate. Realize that when you send them a pitch, they’re probably not going to be able to respond right away – unless you’re very lucky and caught them at exactly the right moment. Give them at least a few days to respond before following up.
If the story is especially time-sensitive, then you need to make this clear when you reach out to them first time around. Conveying urgency is another great way to get a reporter’s attention.
weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. source: pexels
Send them a video
Video is changing how we create and consume news. Journalists know it, and if you can help them source quality video content, then they’re going to be very happy with you indeed. Here in 2017, video content represents 74% of all internet traffic (Source).
So if you want to give your story a boost and make it more likely to hit the headlines, consider sending a video along with your pitch. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it – and the same goes for news stories. News publications love video because it encourages readers to stay on the page for longer.
Making a vaguely professional-looking video doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of great apps out there for making videos, including iMovie, PowerDirector, and LumaFusion.
Be willing to let it go
With time stacked against them, most reporters will probably require a follow-up a few days after you’ve pitched them your story. In most instances, they’ll probably appreciate the reminder — always with added ‘new’ information that’s of value to them — not, “Did you get my email about…”.
However, if you’ve already chased them a couple of times and received nothing but stony silence in return, you might need to try a different approach, angle, or twist on the topic. You can also ask if your pitch might be a better fit with someone else at their organization.
The risk is that you may not necessarily get the answer you’re looking for. But by putting it out there in a gentle way, such as “seems like this wasn’t a perfect fit for you – unless I hear otherwise, I will run a different idea by you soon.
If you are looking to promote something time-sensitive like a product launch or a new ecommerce venture, you are going to have to plan ahead and be mindful of editorial deadlines you can tell them that you’re offering it to them first. And if they pass you can move on to the next top person on your media list. Whether you build a store from the ground up, or invest in a readymade one, make sure that your branding and content is on-point enough to appeal to busy journos. A good pitch from a badly formulated brand may go to waste — so make sure you cover all bases.
Of course, if all else fails, and you really will stop at nothing to get that reporter’s attention, you can try one the following:
- Hire a banana costume and do a little dance outside their office window
- Pay a movie theater to play a pre-recorded video of your pitch after the ads at a movie you know they’re going to see (because they posted about it on social media)
- Accidentally bump into them on the bus while holding a basket of kittens
- Heroically save them from falling into a pond
Disclaimer: These methods are not tried and tested. I hold no responsibility for them going wrong.
We need the attention of reporters for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to make a story or piece of content go viral. Perhaps you just bought an online business and you want brand coverage. Possibly you’ve found yourself in the public’s bad books, and you need a bit of good publicity. Whatever the reason, it helps to know how to go about it. Hopefully these suggestions have been useful.
Got any other great ideas? Let us know!
Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the brand growth hacking process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
By Guest Blogger Sarah Von Bargen
I thought, for a bit, that I should really title this post ‘How To Network With Bloggers’ – because, you know, SEO and what not.
But the word ‘networking’ feels intimidating and overwhelming and slightly gross. Eating subpar appetizers while someone shoves their business card in my face and shrieks their elevator pitch? No. Sharing super useful advice/client referrals/traffic/cream cheese wontons with someone who I connect with, like, AS A HUMAN BEING? Yes.
Really? Networking is mostly just making friends. And if you approach it as such (and think about what you can bring to the table, rather than what you can get from an interaction) you’ll be befriending bloggers left, right, and all over Twitter.
If there are any bloggers you’d like to collaborate with/pitch/take to coffee, here are a few things that you should do before you drop into their inbox.
6 ways to befriend bloggers
1. Leave productive, smart, helpful comments on their blog
No matter how big and famous they are, bloggers read their comments and if you’re regularly saying awesome things, they’ll start to remember you. Of course, some blogs and posts engender better commentary – it’s hard to leave a mind-blowing comment on an outfit post. But personal essays, tutorials, or thought-provoking posts are an opportunity to chime in.
Also: make sure that the icon that shows up when you leave a comment matches the headshot on your blog and the icon for your Twitter profile, otherwise it’ll be hard for the blogger to recognize you.
2. Interact with them on social media
Respond to the comments, answer their questions, ask them questions, send them links you think they’d like. Just the same way you’d do with a friend.
3. If you like something they did, link to it
We’ve talked about how oddly successful/useful link round-ups can be. Readers love ’em, they’re a great way to share a bit of traffic love with bloggers you like, and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like writing, they’re a clever way of creating content without writing 500 words. When you include someone in a link roundup, make sure to @mention them on Twitter so they’ll know you’re talking about them.
If you don’t have a blog, tweet links to bloggers’ content or retweet their links.
4. Share things you think they’d like
My readers know my painfully, awkwardly well. Three different people sent me a link to this inflatable cat unicorn headband and two people sent me links to Macklemore’s Thrift shop song. And I loved it. And I totally remember who sent me those links. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you like and admire with information that you think they’d find helpful.
5. If you’re going to pitch them, triple check that what you’re pitching is a good fit
Do they host guest posts? Do they offer giveaways? What is the monetary value of those giveaways? Do they review products? Do they use c/o items in their outfits posts? It would be a pity to waste your time (and theirs) crafting the perfect pitch email and then sending it to the wrong person or the wrong type of blog.
6. Avoid doing any of these annoying things
Just like in real life, sometimes friendship is about Not Being Annoying. I promise i’ll pay you that money I owe you, I won’t share that secret with So-and-so, and I won’t have four drinks when I promised to be the designated driver.
Here are some things you should avoid doing:
- Misspelling their name
- Sending them a template email
- Asking them about anything you could Google
- Asking them to locate a post they wrote
- Writing an email that is more than two paragraphs long
I’d love to hear from you, bloggers! How do you like to be treated? How do you network and befriend other bloggers? Small businesses, tell us about your interactions with bloggers!
P.S. 7 types of content that do the community-building and networking for you
Sarah Von Bargen
WANNA BE FRIENDS? HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO NEXT…
Guest Post By Victoria Greene
It’s fair to say that America is a fairly divided place right now, with wildly differing ideas about what’s right and wrong. Whatever your views, our blundering, boastful President does seem to have mastered one thing, and that’s showmanship. As he appoints more than a few questionable characters to office, many of us remain distracted by the latest inflammatory statements he’s made on Twitter, or by what’s going on with Celebrity Apprentice. As intelligent entrepreneurs and business owners, here are 8 lessons we can learn from his strengths and weaknesses when it comes to courting publicity.
PR is rooted in positive relationships
Most CEOs respect PR, or at least understand its function. Whatever their feelings towards it, they accept that in positions of high power or visibility, it is necessary. For better or worse, Trump is not most CEOs.
Donald has yet to realize that at the root of PR is a carefully tended network of positive relationships, built on clear and transparent communication. He mistakenly considers himself an ‘expert’ PR person, despite his total lack of tact, sensitivity, or awareness. Let’s not forget, he appointed a hedge fund manager to run his communications office.
For the life of him, Trump cannot seem to hold on to a PR chief, and the reason is quite simple – no self-respecting, professional PR person wants to work for a boss who thinks he can do better, and who will publicly shame you for trying to do your job.
How to apply: Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”. In other words, an aggressive approach will get you nowhere. He also says that “Winning friends begins with friendliness” – another simple yet oft forgotten pearl of wisdom. Take a look at this list of the 100 Most Trusted People in America. They are well-liked, charismatic, and many of them are actors. Interestingly, none of them are TV bullies.
Sometimes you need to take an unconventional approach
Some believe that Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential race due to his poor TV presence, compared to JFK, who understood the power of the medium. Trump is, of course, no stranger to television, having perhaps more experience with it than any other presidential candidate in history. Throughout his election campaign, he consistently eschewed conventional politics in favor of sensationalism and sound bites, in contrast to Hillary’s more measured approach.
What’s more, while Clinton worked to secure votes across all demographics, Trump lasered in on a specific target audience – white, working class men who had been feeling less represented under the previous Democrat government. In marketing we are often advised to ‘find our niche’, and it seems that the same could be true of politics.
How to apply: There are lots of ways to get unconventional with PR, though it’s no guarantee that just because your campaign is unconventional, it will be a success. From publicity stunts and viral videos, to riding trends and putting out crowdsourcing content, the internet has made it much easier to be imaginative. Check out these Timeless Creative PR Ideas.
If you fake it, you’ll probably get found out
Earlier in Trump’s career, several New York reporters spoke with a John Miller or a John Barron – two supposed PR men who sounded suspiciously like Trump himself. Miller and Barron were particularly insightful, sharing detailed explanations for Trump’s actions and love life, all the while presenting him in the most favorable light possible. You can read the full transcript of one of John Miller’s interviews here.
Of course, these strangely forthcoming sources were none other than Trump himself, and if you read or listen to the interviews, it is startlingly, ridiculously apparent. At one point, he even forgets to speak in the third person. The lesson here? It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: don’t pose as your own publicist and expect to get away with it. Oh – and the tan isn’t real either.
How to apply: It’s fairly straightforward really – just be honest and authentic about who you are and what you do. If you don’t fake it in the first place, you don’t get found out. Lance Armstrong was a celebrated road racing cyclist who many people admired, until the doping scandal came out. Likewise, Tonya Harding was a famous figure skater, whose career was left in tatters after she hired a thug to break her rival’s leg. The public hates a cheater, so keep your record squeaky clean.
You must be willing to listen to advice
PR professionals are much like counselors. Their job is to advise the client on the most effective approach to communications, if they want to achieve certain goals. They are a valuable asset to the team, and a smart client will realize the importance of listening to their advice, even if they end up taking a slightly different course of action. A sensible business owner will involve their PR person in all big-picture discussions.
The thing about Trump is, he really doesn’t want anyone’s advice. He wants to do his own thing and he thinks he’s got PR sussed. When Spicer worked at the White House, he griped about his limited access to the President, yet was still blamed when things went wrong.
How to apply: Benjamin Franklin said that “wise men don’t need advice – fools won’t take it”. If you’re attempting to navigate the choppy waters of publicity, it’s better to do it with a legitimate expert at your side. Part of a PR practitioner’s role is to train their clients to effectively face the media, as well as making their client’s reputation as strong as possible. Ultimately, they help to keep you focused and moving towards your goals – with the force of the media on side.
The celebrity phenomenon
Whether your feelings towards Trump are mild or extreme, it can’t be denied that he is something of a sensation. For better or worse (and likely worse), we’ve never had a figure quite like him on America’s political stage. We now live firmly in a culture of celebrity, and Trump – a longstanding TV star and populist bigmouth – is known by everyone. It shouldn’t really come into the equation when you’re running for President – yet it does.
Why? Because with their deity-like status, we listen to what celebrities have to say. So in 21st century America, should we be surprised that a celebrity has managed to become President? It’s wall-to-wall (pun intended) publicity, be it good or bad. Whether you love or despise Trump, he remains a popular topic of conversation – and that’s just what he wants.
How to apply: So how can you find ways to keep people interested in you? To enjoy the kind of engagement that Trump gets online and in the media, it’s all about being engaging and having a stance or opinion that people relate to. Today’s consumers are discerning about which brands deserve their time and attention. Don’t be afraid to start discussions, and fan the flames to keep them going. Experiment to find out what resonates with your audience, and mix up your timing, language, and use of imagery.
He tells it like (he thinks) it is
Trump doesn’t speak the political tongue. Everybody knows that – just look at his Twitter feed. Instead, he seems to say whatever comes into his head, without much of a filter to speak of. Agree with him or not, you always get the jist of what he’s saying. Some politicians do themselves a disservice when they speak in political jargon, alienating the less articulate voters.
Honestly counts for something in PR, even – or especially – if that honesty is controversial. Trump’s followers love him for his willingness to tackle any subject, in particular those that more seasoned politicians dance around.
Why is this so appealing? Because we value people who give us perspective on things that matter in our culture. In other words, we love someone with a strong opinion. And Trump – well, he is big orange hot air balloon of opinions.
How to apply: We want your perspective on what matters to you and why it’s important to your audience. Your strong opinion about a topic you care about sets you apart from your competitors who may have a different take – and sets you up as a thought leader. News shows are made up of people proffering different opinions on a topic then backing those opinions with facts, research, or other evidence.
Pick an enemy (or several)
Branding experts will often tell you to identify an enemy and position against them. That enemy doesn’t have to be a person, it could be a system, a state of the world, an injustice, or an opinion. The world’s top brands all have distinct enemies – and Trump is a brand too.
At this point, Trump has made many enemies, and he has a habit of calling them out and going after them. Choosing an enemy gives your campaign a focus – it’s the classic scenario of ‘us vs. them’ that galvanizes large groups of people into action. It’s a great tactic for businesses. Is it a good one for politics? It’s certainly been successful at getting Trump into office, but as to the effects on society and the world, it all starts to feel like a dark and dangerous road.
How to apply: So every brand or personality needs an enemy, but that doesn’t have to be a competitor. It could just as easily be an idea. A nutritionist might position processed food corporations as ‘the enemy’. A pro web designer might frame DIY website builders as ‘the enemy’. For an artisan coffee shop, it might be instant coffee. Whether it’s a belief, an assumption, or a rival business, every beloved brand has something to push against and rally behind.
If you don’t have the instinct for it, leave it to the professionals
Anthony Scaramucci has said that Trump has ‘excellent public relations instincts’. So is that true? He certainly represents something different, and something different – especially in politics – is pretty irresistible. But I would argue that overall, Trump’s PR instincts are fumbling at best, and volatile at worst. And they appear to be getting worse. His weeklong assault on his own attorney general in July was apparently ‘all his idea’. Good one.
Trump is used to the selective media exposure granted by his TV lifestyle, but as President, you are on show 24/7. PR decisions are more critical than ever. The best bosses understand their own strengths and weaknesses, but Trump’s inflated view of himself means he won’t listen to others. From a PR perspective, it will be interesting to see where his ego leads him over the course of his time in office.
Trump famously exaggerates, but if you’re looking to implement his tactics into your own business PR campaign, maybe think twice. Exaggeration and dishonesty are no way to do business – and you will be found out eventually. If you’re trying to get more media attention for your business, here are some good guidelines. What we can take away from his success is the importance of picking an enemy, leveraging social channels, being true to yourself, and being memorable. But we can also learn to become better listeners, better bosses, and better people.
Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves following politics and drawing lessons that can be beneficial in other areas. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
I’m in a tizzy right now. I have an unknown, itchy red rash under my arm. My stomach is upset and bloated. And my office has a giant pile of clothes on a chair I’ve been meaning to take to the consignment store, but haven’t. When I want to shift something, I clean out. But sometimes, the shift doesn’t come soon enough. And stuff piles up.
While I continue to consult with some amazing and talented clients, at the same time I’m also moving into a new direction with my True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls. So I have a foot in both worlds — which can sometimes be crazy making. Like worried nights pacing and writing at 3:00 am, searching for that roll of sweet tarts I have in the laundry room cupboard for such emergencies.
For one thing, I didn’t really realize that I was a start-up. But that’s what I am. I have a business with no track record for a new idea.
Verbal self-defense for girls
I have all the measurements in place, but have yet to have anyone complete the program. Everyone in the schools and organizations who have purchased it is starting in August or September and while it will take me just 3 months or so to get initial statistics and evidence-based results it will take me about 9 months to get a full picture of all the survey results.
That’s almost a year! Panic. Seems like forever and a day.
Starting something new can be a maddening and discouraging process. I want to chat a bit about the three things about the process, which is often hard to love. Failure, faith, and perseverance. We are often told to embrace the journey. While that is a noble thought, the muck during the journey can weigh you down something fierce.
I just heard an interview with Jessi Klein on Terry Gross’ show Fresh Air talking about getting an Emmy while having a three month-old baby and having to pump breast milk during the ceremony which nicely sums up why embracing the journey is necessary to happiness. “…Having a baby is really hard on a marriage. So things with my husband were just – I’ll just say they were very hard ’cause we were just so tired, and it’s so crazy. And I just suddenly felt very much like, oh, I won this Emmy, and tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and I’m going right back into my own little struggles.
And nothing is really different. Like, this was great but now it is over. And I just have to be back in my sort of currently overweight, milk-laden body and waking up at 2 in the morning and 4 in the morning. And it’s hard. And the Emmy is amazing, but all of this will continue. I think it just brought into very stark relief in the moment what would have been the truth no matter what I was doing. But it was very immediate, which is that this doesn’t really mean anything for your actual happiness or your life.”
the journey is the reward even if it doesn’t feel like it
We think when we get to the big award, reward, end game, whether it’s finishing a book, landing a big deal, selling a bunch of stuff, finding love, that suddenly the world will become rosier and all that ails us will fall away. Yet, happiness often comes on the heels of failure — though rarely soon enough, it seems.
You’ve heard the expression “Fail fast.” It’s about trying a bunch of new things and letting go of the ones that don’t work. So first I had to find people to call schools and organizations. I used Upwork and went through about four people before I found the two that consistently got results- i.e. they called the decision makers to set five-minute appointments for me to discuss the program. I failed fast with the callers by starting them all at once on different excel spread sheets for my target markets.
Failure number two. Schools are a hard sell. Most principals, counselors or PE teachers loved the program. Then it had to go to committee. Then through the budgeting process. Guess what? 99% of the schools couldn’t afford my program due to budget cuts or lack of funding. Many said that would have to get independent funding in order to implement the program. So, we moved on to organizations. Organizations totally got the concept and wanted the program. Problem? Funding. They were used to getting most of their programs free as they were mostly funded by other organizations or grants.
So, I started researching how to get grants. Getting a grant is a laborious, time-consuming and confusing process. In short you have to make sure your mission is in absolute synch with the grantor, then you typically have to earmark those who will get the funding. Which meant that I had to start getting commitments in writing about which organizations were really keen on using my program so I could list them in the grant.
Another problem with getting grants to fund the people who wanted the program is there are no guarantees that I’ll even get the grant!
So all that work could be for nothing.
I hired an expert for that to make sure that I was on the right track. But, after talking to many of the grantors, they told me that had hesitations about giving money to an unproven program — even though they loved the idea and said would go to bat for me.
My faith began to flag. Am I really going in the right direction? How many obstacles do I need to go through before I give up? So I turned to my friends. They told me to keep going. They said it was a much needed idea. They said to find a way in. They said hold fast. Today, a man in charge of programing for the Boys & Girls Clubs said he had faith in me and my program and that all girls need it. “Stay in touch. This is a great program.”
One of the things that I recommend to my clients and course participants when they aren’t getting any traction with the media is to tweak. If you send in a pitch or press release and no one is biting, try a twist. Approach your topic from another angle. Switch up the perspective. Go in the back door— a non-obvious angle that isn’t a direct pitch for your business, book, product, service or cause. Think small and get specific.
What seemed to spark real interest in the contacts I was speaking with is this idea of teens and college girls teaching each other. This is my big dream for my program to become self-sustaining in this way. So my business mentor said, “Let’s approach your course from this angle.” So I did.
I got immediate interest from a Boys & Girls Club that serves an at-risk community and already has volunteers that are groomed in community service through their Keystone program. Perfect.
The head of programming for a department of education said that she thinks she could wrangle 20 girls to train that could then be dispatched back to their schools. Fantastic.
Today, I talked to a man who works in five schools where Opioid addiction is rampant. When I told him about my vision he said, “I can’t believe you just said that. We have those girls at the ready and we’ve been wanting to do something like this the up their self-esteem.” Yes.
Keep your focus on the vision.
By focusing on my original vision, the big dream and bigger mission and slightly shifting the approach, I’m now getting a more enthusiastic response — because it directly taps into the organization’s bigger mission as well.
Am I still discouraged, downtrodden, despairing and weepy? Yes. I cried my eyes out last week, and sobbed on my sweetie’s shoulder, and starting thinking about tossing in the towel. Seriously. On other days, after making calls for hours and not reaching anyone who can make a decision or having people tell me that they get a similar program for free, I feel exhausted and hopeless and have the urge to gorge on cookies.
Then I think about all the time, energy, money and inspiration I put into this. And keep going.
I talked to Susan Kennedy yesterday (SARK) about my plight as she’s an expert in keeping a person’s creative spirits high. The advice she gave me was, “When I’m tempted to deflate in this absence, instead I’m going to fill myself with presence. I’m going to remind myself of my vision and certainty.”
Which all requires discipline and managing what I tell myself. After I bemoaned my plight I told Susan that I did believe that I could already feel that my program was instituted far and wide, helping girls all over the world — and that it had already happened and that I just needed to catch up with it. We talked about the fact that we have no idea how this program has touched people and where it will reach — now and in the future.
Does this mean I won’t have days when I feel it’s all hopeless. No. Like Jessi Klein I’ll still be mired in my own daily struggles, but thank God I don’t have to pump breast milk. When I imagine her life I think I may have gotten off easy. Though it doesn’t feel that way. I just have to get through this next patch, I tell myself. I will remember the discipline of keeping to my vision and certainty. And I invoke the question I’ve told you to ask yourself: “What is my next step?” That is my question. I keep following the answers, wherever they lead.
You can’t escape it. The ubiquitous upsell. No sooner have your gotten something for free or bought, there is more. You’ve just gotten something delicious – and now there might be more deliciousness right around the corner.
Of course I train all of my clients to offer an upsell in an online marketing campaign or funnel. We want to engage our followers and fans and then inspire them to invest – in themselves and in us.
And, on the flip side it can go too far. Like those endless sales cycle loops that ask you questions like, “Do you want to have more free time? No thanks.” Which makes you seem like an idiot. Like you made the wrong choice and you may live to regret it.
You can’t get away from the upsell, no matter where you go. We’re here in Bali and went to a little local massage place about an hour’s walk from Ubud (the town that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in her book, Eat, Pray, Love). As soon as we sat down in the tiny, bright green reception area to peruse the massage menu the owner was hovering over us pointing to the expensive packages.
Susan Harrow and Clare Barry in Ubud at the Yoga Barn
Enter the ugly upsell.
It was ugly because she had no idea what we wanted – just what she wanted. More money. The package she wanted us to get included a facial (which I can’t stand) and dinner. We were on our way to a restaurant so while we were interested in eating, but having a meal in a spa that was the size of a broom closet and had a bit of a rancid oil smell didn’t appeal. She kept pushing. “You come back and get package.”
A beautiful upsell inquires, engages, entices. It shows you glorious pictures of a place like Clare Barry and Alex Franzen’s upcoming London retreat. (Sign up in the next 2 weeks and get a 10% savings with coupon code Alex10 at checkout for either the Create a Tiny Book workshop or the Reviving Retreat in London next month).
It tells you about all the wonderful feeling you’ll have – exploring yourself or breaking bread with others. A beautiful upsell transports you to your future self. It plants a little flag on where you are now.
Then moves that little flag to a different, imaginable spot — after you partake of our offering here is the transformed you. The happier, lighter, more present you or ___________________________. (Fill in the blank to the promise of your beautiful upsell).
The bottom line…
Upsells do not have to be ugly. They can be uplifting, energizing and quite glorious.
How to do an upsell the right way
This is not an upsell – it’s (hopefully) a beautiful offer:
My Next New Client – You?
Some recent clients have asked me for help to redo their websites, create webinars + speaking topics, media train them for local and national TV + documentaries, create TV segments, and get their book proposal done. If any of this sounds like you — or if you have something else in mind, hop on over here and tell me a bit about yourself. I have space for one new client. I hope it’s you!
And…Want to get involved or teach my course True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls? Let’s talk.
I just read a woman’s special report that disparaged one of my colleague’s tag lines saying, “I feel bad for those who’ve built a brand around this message.” (My colleague is a wonderful AND successful person by the way. And her brand is working just fine.). This is a poor publicity strategy.
This gal’s special report blasted me with her loud clothes, wildly colored hair, and audacious language. She made it a point to shock me. Granted, that’s HER brand, and people who resonate with in-your-face brashness will be her perfect clients.
But please don’t think you have to imitate this way of being to get media coverage, fans, followers or clients. And please never disparage anyone’s brand to promote your own. I once had a client who said she chose me over another colleague precisely because I wasn’t as “slick and sound bitey.”
There is a place for everyone, no matter how shy or small you feel. No matter how big and bold you are. No matter if you’re quiet and thoughtful. No matter your race, ethnicity or point of view. We need us all.
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. ~Oscar Wilde
And know that often the loud ones get attention more quickly, because, well, they are jumping up and down, blowing a bullhorn and calling attention to themselves, while you made be sitting, listening, pondering and seeking to understand others. As long as you’re sitting tall and centered in your own way of being that’s fine. Sometimes, quieting your voice makes it easier to be heard.
And, if you wish you were other, or want to shift your life in a big way before taking center stage – in the media or online, heed the advice of my dear friend Sherry who shows you how to live the life you want in the now — just as you are.
I was hit repeatedly at an Aikido training over the weekend. And it was an honor.
I was at a seminar from a Japanese Sensei who doesn’t come here often. It was considered a special occasion and rare opportunity for training. Some Japanese Senseis have harsher teaching methods than we are used to here. That is an understatement.
My teacher, Hans Goto Sensei, is gentle, but firm. He doesn’t single you out if you’re doing something incorrectly. Rather, when he sees that some of us are having trouble during a class, he stops, asks for a volunteer (typically, a high-ranking black belt or senior student) and takes apart the technique step-by-step so we can do it more easily.
In Japan, the sensei will yell “Dame!” which loosely translated means a combination of, “bad, dumb, wrong.” Or “no good; not serving its purpose; useless; broken.” Many times during training at Bay Marin Aikido, Hans Goto Sensei would say that if a teacher in Japan doesn’t “Dame” or correct you, they don’t care about you. So it’s good to get attention from them — even if it’s in the form of a “Dame.”
My “Dame” came during jo (staff) practice where the Japanese Sensei wanted me to use my body more and to extend the thrust. He came over to me and started yelling in Japanese, demonstrating how I was doing it wrongly and showing me the correct technique. All before the translator came over, who asked that everyone stop training to watch the “lesson.” There were 100 eyes on me as the Sensei was hitting me above my elbow each time he made point. Hitting me hard. I’m not sure he used the word “wimpy” to describe my form, but it was something close to that.
I kept attempting to make the corrections he “suggested” without success so he kept hitting and yelling. I kept my focus on improving instead of thinking of anything else. I had seen the other black belts he’d “Damed” turn bright red and start to tremble. I was determined not to do that, but to maintain my equanimity and dignity. Some people in my dojo had already told me how he’d made one person cry when they visited his dojo in Japan. Unless my arm or leg was snapped in two, this wasn’t going to be me.
When I told a friend about this she said, “At the first hit, I’d be out of there. Off to get a latte and shopping for shoes.” Of course a part of me wanted out of there. The other part welcomed the opportunity to polish my spirit. As Rumi says, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” My work will be done when nothing can scare, annoy, irritate, anger, or ruffle me. That is a long way off.
This is the same kind of training you’ll need for media interviews so you can stay “on message.” When a host or other guests “Dames” you you’ll be able to keep your equanimity and say what you came to say to your audience with ease and grace. It’s what I share in my sound bite course minus the hitting and yelling. Which you can get for the next 7 days for 50% off by using coupon code: BITE.
I’ve just finished creating a live course on verbal self-defense for girls. It is available to license. If this is something that your school, organization, or club is interested in please jet me an email. If you want to make sure that your daughter avoids the Trump Pu—sy grab, this would be the training for her.
This is why my Podcast took 3 years to launch:
I got waylaid.
Over and over again.
I think I resisted it because talking came so natural to me. And I did lots of other harder things first. I created webinars, special reports, ebooks, courses. I trained to get my black belt in Aikido.
I got sidetracked by pleasures too…
I took a weekly writing class. I watched long hours of Longmire and The Good Wife (delicious!). I went to Hawaii and Bali.
But, I finally hunkered down and holed up. Spent a few weeks writing, editing, recording, consulting with my VA Kelly about all the nitty gritty stuff that needed to happen in the back-end. Worked with a great team.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Better done than perfect?” It’s done for now. Far from perfect. I’ll refine it later.
So here are a few things for you that I discuss with experts (or chat about myself) in my new podcast called, Be a Media Darling: Publicity Made Easy…
Use collaboration to get free publicity.
Learn what it takes to get on Dr. Oz.
Gain 15,000 new devoted Twitter folIowers in 2 months.
Handle a radio interview gone horribly awry.
Copy Jennifer Lawrence’s secrets to popularity.
Discover a wonderful wack-a-doodle way to enroll high-end clients on Facebook.
You can hear all this on my “new” Podcast (which I actually started almost 3 years ago)
and keep reading to find out what to do to get a glorious gift for subscribing.
NOTE: Some of the podcasts I mentioned aren’t up yet, but will be soon. Once you subscribe you’ll be notified of each new episode.
You’re welcome to send this to anyone who you think it would delight. Thank you for your kindness!!
Part of doing a podcast is creating a strategy to get it ranked on iTunes New and Noteworthy.
So part of my publicity plan includes YOU. (And a reward!)
Here’s what to do.
- Go to my podcast, Be a Media Darling here.
- Download the first 3-5 episodes (and hopefully listen to them!)
- Subscribe, rate and review my Podcast. (Blessings upon you!) Here’s a quick video on how to do a podcast review on iTunes. (It’s simple if you follow these directions). Note: It can take up to 24 hours to show up on my Podcast. So please be patient for us to send you your gift.
- Give it a 5 star rating.
- Send me the username you used to write the review to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Put “PODCAST REVIEW” in the subject line.
- Share it with 3 friends and/or post it to your social media. (This is the honor system. Thank you for your generosity and help!) See below for ready-made tweets / posts.
- As soon as we receive your username we’ll send you the brand new Get on Local TV in 7 Days E-book (77 pages) worth $197 as a big thank you!
- Here’s what you can use (below) for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts along with the image of my Podcast album or the above image of the gift book. NOTE: Many of these episodes haven’t aired yet, so please be sure they’ve posted before you share on social media! Go here to see what’s aired so far.
Get on Local TV in 7 Days
Be a Media Darling: Publicity Made Easy Podcast
I hope that you hear something on my podcast that sparks an idea, gives you a laugh, intrigues and inspires you on to the greatness in you.
Guest Post By Kent Youngstrom
how me. the not so tortured artist. became to be.
i’m just a regular guy, nothing special—i just happen to be an artist. as an artist, i assumed i needed to be in a gallery for people to see my work. yet galleries seemed to shut me out and preferred my bio to be much more impressive. i figured if galleries didn’t want my work, then maybe no one else did either. doors weren’t opening for me, and i wasn’t sure what to do next.
i began to frantically look for new avenues, hidden pathways or mysterious portals to show my work—anything to keep my dream alive.
i sought off on the seemingly impossible journey of self promotion.
i was scared. nervous sweat. the kind that smells different. bad. the kind where you can’t stand to be next to yourself. what if this doesn’t work. what if i’m exposed?
kent youngstrom publicity for artists
i really don’t think i can find enough people who like what i do to pay my bills on a consistent basis. there are so many real artists out there. they are intimidating.
artists are cool. i’m not that cool. i pretend to be, but i’m really just a dork in what not to wear clothing. i’m really not that much of an artist in the way i was taught to think of one. my figure drawings would fit right in the fifth grade art hallway. no one would know the difference. can i call myself an artist if i can’t even draw a horse properly?
there was no miracle red button to push. i had to try things i was not comfortable with at the time.
that dream was, and still is, the easy part. i started to realize i needed to stop fantasizing about what i wanted and make a conscious decision to use the skills i had to pursue the next stage. i had art—it was time to use it.
i set up a trade with a photographer friend: i gave her some art, and she took some great pictures of my work. i worked with people like susan + a few of her friends to develop fun + snappy email introduction that got attention without screaming, “look at me, i’m awesome.”
the epically awesome alexandra franzen who is a friend of both susan and i got me on the right path with this.
mine sounds like this. (don’t be lazy – make you own – this is mine.)
i’m kenT and i’m an artist (but not the tortured kind.)
i create one-of-a kind-paintings. you may have seen my work in cb2, on sale sites such as gilt.com, or popping up in celebrity home photos in people magazine. all from my charlotte, nc studio.
i’m writing today to send an avalanche of appreciation in your direction (warning: gushing praise, straight ahead.) i love what you’re up to, and i’ve been reveling in your inspiring work for quite some time. your inspiring x of perfect pictures prompted me to swing into your inbox with an ever-so-slightly-coward request.
i want to work with you on something. anything.
much like peanut butter + chocolate, gin + tonic (or bacon + anything), i’m inclined to believe “we are better, together.”
i can edit this when appropriate and make it personal as to what i would like to work with them on. it does not always equal a yes to working with me. but more often than not it does get a response.
i set up a consistent presence on my website and social outlets. i started to broadcast a manifesto as much as a body of work.
you can see it here.
kent youngstrom how to market your art
slowly but surely, people started to answer me, promote me, collaborate with me, and buy from me. eventually I heard from a major retailer who had been sent a small photo book. that company ordered 300 of my original pieces, and they sold out in seven weeks. finally, doors were popping open, and folks were starting to know my name.
each time, my portfolio grew and someone else noticed. i started small. small became a little larger each time.
i have taken small into painting editions limited pieces for cb2, running my total to over 2,000 original paintings; brushed, boxed + shipped to their warehouse since 2012. i made new partnerships with vendors like minted, icanvas, bezar, and jace lipstein of grungygentleman. i continued to work with great people at gilt, deny designs, apartment 2b and lulu and georgia.
a few folks have contacted me to let me know they purchased a canvas at marshall’s home goods. others phoned to say they saw a piece on hgtv.
collaborations are a spectacular way to grow your following. each person or company you work with will market your work to their tribe. look to work with people and companies that align themselves with what you do and what you stand for.
bottom line, i learned that no matter your talent, a magic fairy is not going to drop by your home, studio, or secret lair and volunteer to make you a success.
my advice: my two cents to get you kick started: start with great photography of your work or work that your tribe is drawn to. show it. post it. link it. pin it. work it. make contacts. keep in touch.
get off the couch.
work your backside off.
show up on time.
soon enough, people will know who you are.
kent youngstrom how to make a living as an artist
kent youngstrom is an artist, but not the tortured kind. he is on a mission to make the walls or your home, office or secret lair as amazing as you are. . .
find his work at kentyoungstrom.com
follow his behind the scene + studio life in Instagram @kentyoungstrom
be something. if you want to make something. releases april 18 on amazon.com and . . .
is a pop top energy drink spiked with caffeine laden words that are calming to the soul, while at the same time capable of spurring volcanic eruptions of energy and frenzied moments of accomplishment
be something. if you want to make something encourages makers to stay in the moment and allow ingenuity to be the pace car. each short blurb hands over an uncooked account of an artists rocket fuel fast, can’t stop, won’t stop lucky, sometimes mixed martial arts bloodied adventure. it humorously highlights the speed bumps that were approached way too fast and encourages the reader to push past the exit ramps desperately calling for companionship and accelerate toward the reward on the horizon.
be something. if you want to make something runs over the big scary words of the business world like “copyright” and “business plan” and spits out what makes real sense in the life of doing more of what you love for a living.
pull back the tab and sip a bit . . .
Is it ever OK to “steal” someone else’s ideas – in business? Surprisingly: Yes.
Not long ago, a friend of mine found herself in the kind of situation that would make anyone’s stomach twist into knots.
My friend (an entrepreneur with a modestly popular website and blog) discovered that a woman in another country had stolen an e-course that she had created. Not just the title, or the general concept, or a few sentences here and there. The entire thing. Every lesson. Every piece. Word for word. The thief was passing the course off as her own, accepting payments for enrollment, and was claiming that all of the money was going to “charity.”
My friend was horrified. Eventually, she was able to shut down this shady operation, but it was a stressful and time-consuming process. Ultimately, she had to go directly to the customer service department of the e-commerce website that the thief was using and implore them to suspend the thief’s account, because she wasn’t responding to any of my friend’s emails.
How to steal ideas the right way
This may seem like a “shocking” or “unusual” situation, but I’m sorry to say: it’s not.
Theft is rampant in the business world — especially in these techie times, where lifting someone else’s work (and passing it off as your own) can be as simple as clicking “copy” and “paste.”
This is the part of the blog post where you might expect me to stomp my foot down and say “Stealing is always wrong! Don’t do it, people!”
It might surprise you to know that…
I don’t necessarily believe that stealing is always “wrong.”
In fact — whether you’re studying photography, practicing Aikido at a dojo, or growing your business — “stealing” people’s ideas and “copying” other people’s masterful work is actually one of the best ways to learn, refine your skills, and ultimately, develop your own unique style.
Point being: there are many different types of “stealing.” Some types of stealing are illegal and immoral. Some are perfectly appropriate.
There is a big difference between “plagiarism” and “artful imitation,” but many business owners struggle to tell the difference.
Allow me to de-mystify things with a few Do’s and Don’ts.
When it comes to “stealing” and your business…here’s how to steal ideas the right way
1. DO steal ideas from other industries — not just your own.
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you know that most jets are dull, cramped, beige and gray clunkers. Not much “style” or attention to “ambience,” unless you’re fortunate enough to be flying First Class.
But the minds behind Virgin Airlines decided to break away from industry conventions. Inspired by chic hotels and groovy nightclubs, they decided to add soft pink “mood lighting” and mellow electronic music to their planes. When you board a Virgin jet, it feels like stepping into a sultry, celebrity-studded nightclub!
Virgin Airlines marketing tips
Even the Virgin website feels like a “departure” (pardon the pun!) from ordinary airline booking sites. As Luanne Calvert, Virgin’s head of Marketing, explains in this piece: “When creating the new site, we wanted to break out of the mold of typical airline booking sites, so we looked to popular e-commerce sites like Apple.com or Amazon.com, not other airline sites, for inspiration.”
Both of these Virgin anecdotes are perfect examples of how you can “steal” an idea from a business that’s outside of your industry and then “weave” that idea into your own branding, product development, or daily operations. This type of stealing is totally fine. It’s not “theft.” It’s re-mixing!
You try it: What’s something that inspires and excites you, outside of your industry? Do you love rock concerts? Spa trips? Ogling beautiful product packaging at your local boutique? How could you take an element of something you love and then “blend” it into your own business?
2. DO steal ideas from your mentors and teachers — and credit them as the source.
In the yoga world, it’s common to name and honor your teachers: explaining the “lineage” of your training, where you studied, who you studied under, who their teachers were, and so on.
Musicians, too, will often name their role models and publicly thank them in interviews, in CD liner notes, even onstage while delivering an acceptance speech for a glitzy award.
But in the business world, for whatever reason, people often seem hesitant to name their teachers and influencers outright, or explain where their ideas came from. That’s something we ought to change — and it’s quite simple to do.
If you’re writing a blog post that was directly inspired by someone you know, say so. (“This piece was inspired by a conversation with my mentor, so-and-so.” Then link to their website.)
If you’re creating a program that includes concepts, materials, even worksheets that you’ve sourced from other teachers, get permission first, then cite the source. (“This worksheet was adapted from a worksheet that was originally created by so-and-so, who graciously gave me permission to use some of her concepts here.”)
Another great move: build a “gratitude” page somewhere on your website (like this one) where you publicly acknowledge some of the teachers, mentors, coaches, and influencers who have shaped your approach to doing business.
Securing permission to use someone else’s material — and then crediting them — is always a smart move. It’s one that ensures you’ll never look like a lazy “thief” —but rather, a thoughtful student and a total class act!
You try it: Who are some of your top influencers and teachers? Do you thank them in writing, acknowledge them on your website, mention them during interviews, or otherwise make their presence (in your life) known? If not, how could you start doing that?
3. DO steal ideas from multiple sources — not just one.
The American playwright and entrepreneur Wilson Mizner once wrote, “If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.”
Let’s say, for the sake of example, that you are closely focused on one specific business owner — say, an elite life coach who’s doing phenomenal work, making tons of money, helping thousands of customers. You follow everything she does. You enroll in all her programs. She puts out a new product and you quickly follow suit, creating something similar. You imitate her business model, her voice, tone, style, everything she does. You just LOVE her!
steal ideas ethically
Your intentions may be pure, but sooner or later, this kind of “hero-stealing” is going to get you into trouble. Why? Because you’re stealing from just one source.
Rather than developing your own unique business style, you’re copycatting just one person who seems to be doing it “right.” It’s time to broaden your field of inspiration!
You try it: Start filling your inspiration-tank from lots of diverse sources, not just one!
Go to an art gallery. Watch a silly movie. Listen to music that you don’t normally listen to. Read glossy magazines. Take a vacation. Have conversations with strangers. Read blogs and books written by people who work inside your industry, if you wish, but read LOTS of them — written by lots of different people, not just one author.
As you develop your own products, services, and online content, think: mixed-media collage, not Xerox photocopy.
And now, a few Don’ts.
These are pretty straightforward and will be obvious to most people, yet they’re worth repeating!
4. DON’T steal exact wording.
Grabbing someone else’s brilliantly written product description, blog post, e-course materials, and so on, and pretending that you’re the wordsmith who wrote it? NOT cool.
5. DON’T steal visuals that you find online (including “stock photos”) without permission.
Nope, crediting the artist with a link back to their website is not “enough.”
Seek permission to use images, illustrations, infographics and photos on your website, blog, and in your marketing materials. A quick email to the artist usually does the trick.
One exception: if the artist has explicitly stated that the image is “OK to use” — through a Creative Commons attribution license, for example, or by posting a note on their website that says “go for it!” — then feel free to use the image.
But if there’s no expressed permission, it’s not a wise move. (Getty Images has been cracking down lately, tracking bloggers and business owners who have used photos without permission and dinging them with hefty fines! It pays to be cautious.)
6. DON’T steal if your gut says, “This just doesn’t feel right.”
If you’re feeling hesitant or uncertain about whether something you intend to do is “OK” or not, listen to that gut instinct. Then take action to prevent heartache (or a lawsuit) later down the line.
Do your due diligence. Check the US trademark website to make sure that a business or product name you want to use isn’t already in use by a similar service provider. Reach out to your mentors and ask for their blessing to re-print their work or re-purpose their concepts and formulas. If you hire a graphic designer and you feel “funny” about a particular logo or infographic that they deliver to you (“Hmm… haven’t I seen this somewhere before?”) do some investigating. Remember: if the people you hire choose to steal inappropriately, it reflects poorly on your brand, too!
Last but not least:
When you’re creating content (of any kind) for your business…
7. DON’T forget to include true stories from your own life.
Nobody in the entire world has the exact same life experiences that YOU have.
Nobody in the entire world can tell the story about that one time you chatted with an elderly Vietnam vet while waiting in line at the DMV and learned a valuable lesson about grit and determination. (For example).
If you weave a “true story” into your next blog post, newsletter, webinar, a talk that you deliver onstage, e-course materials, and so on, then your materials will INSTANTLY become more “unique” and “identifiable” as belonging to YOU. (Remember how I started off this blog post with a true story from my own life about someone I know? Yup. Just like that.)
Even if you go on to discuss a “universal truth” or a “timeless reminder” or “no-brainer tips” that thousands of people have talked about before, adding a true story will elevate your material from “stale and forgettable” to “intimate and original.”
To sum it up:
Stealing isn’t always “wrong.”
It’s a matter of how you do it, why you do it, and how you credit (or don’t credit) your sources and influencers.
The “right” way to steal other people’s brilliant business ideas
There’s “plagiarism” (ripping off one person, or one source, verbatim, word for word)… and then there’s “artful imitation” (getting inspired by multiple sources and then copying and re-mixing diverse ideas together… combined with true stories from your own life!).
Hopefully, now, you’re seeing and feeling the difference.
Your ideas may spring from other people’s teachings, and your insights might be “timeless” and “classic” rather than “revolutionary,” but as long as you’re stealing the “right” way, re-mixing rather than Xeroxing…
You’ll always be one-of-a-kind.
NOTE: This piece was inspired by a number of people and sources, including Austin Kleon (his book Steal Like An Artist is an excellent read for all business owners), the work of Julie Cottineau, former VP of Brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and CEO of BrandTwist, and dozens of friends and clients (including several folks enrolled in my monthly publicity and business training club) who have reached out to me with plagiarism “horror stories” over the years. Thank you: everyone!